Contraceptive content shared on social media largely not from health experts, study finds

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Brigham researchers looked astatine tweets from 2014 to 2019 astir contraceptive methods and recovered that only a mini fraction were authored by wellness professionals.

Patients are speedy to move to societal media for guidance connected contraception methods, broadside effects and education, but what benignant of contented is being shared and who is sharing it? A caller study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a founding personnel of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, looked astatine thousands of tweets astir reversible contraceptive methods published from 2014 to 2019. Tweets were often posted by contraceptive consumers (about 50 percent), pinch a overmuch smaller proportionality (6 percent) posted by an charismatic news aliases healthcare source. The findings constituent to opportunities for healthcare professionals to usage societal media to disseminate meticulous contraceptive information. Results are published in Contraception and Reproductive Medicine.

"Platforms for illustration Twitter, now known arsenic X, empower patients to entree wellness accusation and make decisions astir contraception that align pinch their values," said Deborah Bartz, MD, MPH, an subordinate professor of medicine astatine Harvard Medical School and an attending expert successful the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at BWH. "We spot that individuals are making decisions astir contraception based connected anecdotal acquisition and proposal from friends, family, and societal media users. So really tin we, arsenic physicians, usage societal media to lead to amended wellness encounters and yet amended wellness outcomes?"

Following up connected a previous study in which nan squad analyzed tweets from 2006 (the twelvemonth Twitter was founded) until 2019, researchers selected a random sample of 1 percent, aliases 4,434 retired of nan 457, 369 publically disposable English-language tweets related to reversible medicine contraception methods posted betwixt January 2014 and December 2019. The squad sorted tweets by contraception method and topics, including categories for illustration efficacy, access, and safety. Two researchers coded tweets by theme, root (health professional, news source, consumer) and those seeing accusation versus providing advice, and a 3rd individual resolved immoderate discrepancies from nan first coding analysis.

They recovered that 26.7% of tweets discussed contraception method decision-making, and 20.5% covered broadside effects, peculiarly for intrauterine devices (IUDs) and nan depot medroxyprogesterone acetate shot. Roughly 6% of tweets requested much accusation connected contraception, and astir 4% asked for advice. IUDs were nan astir often discussed semipermanent contraceptive method connected nan platform.

Notably, astir half (50.6%) of tweets were posted by contraceptive consumers, while six percent were posted by charismatic news aliases healthcare sources. Researchers besides recovered that journalists and news sources authored importantly much tweets than healthcare professionals. Health professionals connected Twitter were besides much apt to station acquisition contented than different personification demographics nan squad studied. Twitter users often reported making a determination astir commencement power based connected accusation from a non-clinical source, specified arsenic friends, family aliases societal media.

All posts analyzed successful this study were sorted and coded by individuals, leaving room for mentation arsenic to what contented class they autumn into (for example, broadside effects versus decision-making). Because nan squad only analyzed English-language tweets, these findings whitethorn not encompass non-English-speaking populations' perceptions of contraception. While authors took inventory of nan type of contented Twitter users discussed, they did not measure posts for accuracy, thing Bartz intends to do successful early work.

Bartz explained wellness professionals cannot disregard nan accusation and misconceptions coming connected societal media and should inquire their patients astir what acquisition they already person connected contraception successful objective discussions. She emphasized that a cardinal takeaway from this study is that societal media users want to perceive from wellness professionals online.

I would emotion to activity pinch healthcare professionals connected really to trade effective messaging astir contraception and present those messages via societal media to scope arsenic galore patients arsenic possible. We cognize that acquisition contented shared by wellness professionals is well-received by users. Overwhelmingly, we spot that group want to perceive from aesculapian professionals connected societal media."

Deborah Bartz, MD, MPH, Associate professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


Journal reference:

Huang, M., et al. (2024). Contraceptive contented shared connected societal media: an study of Twitter. Contraception and Reproductive Medicine.